‘How are you?’ asked a health-obsessed friend of mine. ‘Fine,’ I said. ‘In fact, terrific.’ He stared into my eyes. ‘That’s often a warning sign. You should really get some tests done.’
And that’s the way it feels with the UK economy in 2015. The better the news, the more we seem to worry about what might happen next. Jobs growth has been remarkably strong, real wages are rising at last, inflation is close to zero. Public-sector borrowing, though still high, is on a more positive track as tax revenues begin to recover. In Europe, another Greek crisis has been averted by last-minute compromise. So why all the fear?
Well, as Liam Halligan says in our cover story, we’re just weeks away from a UK general election that’s highly likely to produce a hung parliament, a coalition perhaps led by Labour, and market turmoil for gilts, some equity sectors and the pound. Meanwhile, as Ros Altmann explains, the impact of Quantitative Easing may have done serious damage to our pension funds. And Matthew Lynn thinks takeover fever in the telecoms sector is more likely to destroy shareholder value than boost it.
In such uncertain times, what should you do to protect your wealth and make it grow? In this issue we look at ways of monetising your home or your car in the ‘sharing economy’, at fine wines as an alternative investment, and at the pros and cons of commercial property. We offer advice on choosing the right trading platform to suit your needs and picking tech start-up winners. Finally, Louise Cooper tells us what a good financial adviser is really for — not least, to keep clients calm and well focused on the longer term. I hope that’s the way you’re already coping with the tensions of this febrile pre-election season, and that Spectator Money helps you make the best of your portfolio, whatever the near future may bring.